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Shoplifting items using booster bags can lead to harsher penalties

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Shoplifting is a crime in Rhode Island. Depending on the retail value of the item stolen, a person convicted of shoplifting could face up to $500 in fines and a year in imprisonment.

It’s also illegal for someone to conceal merchandise with the intent to walk away with the items. State law even holds that if a person does this, a court can consider the act strong evidence that the person is guilty of shoplifting.

However, there is one more level to the offense of concealing an item for shoplifting. If a person uses a booster bag to conceal stolen items, they can face more severe penalties than those who don’t.

What are booster bags?

A booster bag is a homemade bag meant to help thieves shoplift items more discreetly. The bag can be any type – a backpack, handbag, fanny pack and so on – lined with a conductive material (usually aluminum foil). If a stolen item with an electronic security tag is stowed in a booster bag, the foil is meant to block signals from the security coils near the exits of a store from sounding the alarm.

State law on using booster bags

According to Rhode Island law, officials can charge anyone who uses a booster bag or any other similar instrument to steal merchandise with shoplifting using implements in concealment. Unlike regular shoplifting charges that lead to misdemeanor convictions, shoplifting using implements in concealment leads to a felony conviction. The convicted faces a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.

Whether a booster bag was involved or not, shoplifting is a crime that doesn’t pay. Multiple shoplifting convictions also lead to additional fines and jail time, not to mention a habitual offender conviction. If a person or youth faces shoplifting charges, they might want to consider their legal options carefully.